DIET AND MANAGEMENT
- Free choice water — Constant access to free choice, fresh water is essential for summertime calf rearing. Calves exposed to heat stress can consume 3 to 6 gallons (11.4 – 22.8 liters) of water per day. If calves run out of water between feedings, a third water feeding may be necessary to prevent dehydration and assure proper health.
- Calf starter — Freshness of calf starter needs to be closely monitored during hot weather to avoid mold growth or excessive fines. If possible, there should be a solid partition or enough space between the water and grain buckets to prevent carryover of water to the grain bucket.
- Stresses — Perform stressful events in the early morning. Examples of stressful events include moving, grouping, vaccinating, dehorning and castrating. Evening temperatures seem cool, but animal body temperature lags behind ambient temperature by 4 to 6 hours; therefore, morning is the best time to conduct potentially stressful activities.
- Disease control — Calf hutches are popular breeding grounds for flies. Flies complete their life cycle by laying eggs in fresh manure or wet, decomposing feed and manure. All of these conditions commonly exist in calf rearing facilities. Flies are directly involved in spreading bacteria that cause pinkeye in cattle and creating new infections in the immature udders of calves. This irritation of the teats through biting increases the potential risk and spread of mastitis in milking cows.
“They really are more than just a nuisance to deal with, as flies are known to do some pretty significant damage by decreasing milk production in lactating cows and average daily gains in growing cattle, as well as spreading disease,” Cook said.
- Main types of flies — There are four main types of flies to watch out for in a calf operation: Horn flies and stable flies cause significant economic damage through biting and blood feeding. Face flies and house flies are known for spreading disease. “All these fly species are a serious nuisance to cattle and people on and around the dairy operation,” Cook said.
- Not by starter alone — “Producers should consider incorporating a feed-through fly control product in both their calf starter and milk to get ahead of the flies — to break the fly life cycle,” Cook said.